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AnneLawsonArt My art work Texture

On the other side of the hedge

The world is in a difficult place at the moment. The people of Ukraine are at the forefront of our minds. In Australia many are suffering devastating losses due of the recent floods. The pandemic still rampages about. Behind all our anxiety is climate change.

I wonder about sitting sewing, about writing about my art work. Is there something more profound I should be doing?

Charlotte Wood’s words in “The luminous solution” came at the right time.

To create is to defy emptiness. It is generous, it affirms. To make is to add to the world, not subtract from it. It enlarges, not diminishes.

So, here I am.

Last time I mentioned my work I was still deep in the masterclass with Donna Watson. This last month or so has been a great time of exploration for me. I thank Donna for helping me understand that the deeper you go into your self the more reflective your art is. While the outer world has been shit, my inner world is bright and shiny!

And I am definitely on the other side of the hedge.

I have been exploring lace work. My house, like many others in inner Melbourne, has cast iron lacework on the verandah. It has become a little bit of an obsession, my own “wormhole of fascination” to quote Woods again.

I have been playing with ideas, which started with paper and paint. Doing these collages made me realise that I have trouble with backgrounds, an area that I now know has always been weak for me. Textile works seemed to be a way to dodge the issue, not to solve the problem!

This was the first. Two similar ones followed.

The motif in the middle is an element on my lacework. I cut it out from paper, painted it and sewed (laced) it down.

After more pondering I realised that rather than being three separate art works, there was really one, some sort of quilt. (I know there are some of you now thinking “I knew Anne would come to quilting”! Yes Kate, I’m looking at you!)

More pondering and playing to work out what the other panels would be like.

I crocheted for a few hours until my fingers and brain finally worked together to get a shape that I liked. Unfortunately it didn’t quite work with the other bits. I tried odds and ends of lace, different materials and embroidery.

Then, as I was looking for ribbon to tie up the lace bundles, I found twine that florists use to tie up bouquets. I could tear it and twist it and it would hold its form. Perfect! What I was trying to do was make seed heads of the parsley that grows abundantly in the garden. To me these seed heads are also lacy, and bring the garden element into the work.

There’s a little more embroidery to do on this, but it fits with one of the other block like this.

I am hoping that the finished work will look something like this….only less rumpled and more precise!

One of the things I have loved about this is letting the work take its own time. Rather than rushing through, moving quickly to the next thing that catches my attention, I am allowing each element to evolve.

I am gradually accepting that making art is not about sales and exhibitions, although both are wonderful. It is about the process, not the product. It’s about finding the right way to express my ideas, which means refining those ideas. To think deeply and precisely, rather than being slapdash.

Danny Gregory speaks about how art is seen as a commodity in our society, to be bought and sold. We can be made to feel that our work only has validity through outside measures ~ sales, reviews, opinions etc. As though that’s what makes it a legitimate endeavour. But he goes on to say

Making art is mainly about the making. It’s a process, a game, a state of being. Society may insist on evaluating only the result.

But that’s not your problem.

And that’s what I am learning.

22 replies on “On the other side of the hedge”

Oh Anne! You have echoed many of my thoughts and lessons over the years. Art is about the process and the journey–absolutely! Or it should be. One of my guiding thoughts is from Frank Gehry, the architect, who said “If I knew where I was going, I wouldn’t do it” But also, as you have said, art enlarges the world and the understanding of it. It is such a positive force to put out there, especially now! Let’s keep enlarging the world.

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Thank you for affirming what I am thinking Ardez. It is easy to slide into the ‘what’s the point’ attitude, forgetting that creating is a very hopeful thing. Where are you going with your art? I love the Frank Gehry quote…and it really sums up his buildings!

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I am struck by how important that masterclass has been to you, how much it has helped you think about your art, how you work, what are your strengths and weaknesses and how you want your work to develop. I am fascinated by the unfolding story. It ties in beautifully with the books of Kate Davies which I have been reading. Creating is what we are made to do and in the face of so much ugliness and destruction in the world things of beauty are sorely needed.

I also love the lace theme. Years ago I made loads of filet crochet lace. It was perfect for something to do in hospital waiting rooms because it was small enough to go in a pocket or handbag and I could put it down at a moments notice. And I am a fan of the kind of intricate ironwork on those verandahs. delicate and beautiful but incredibly strong – a perfect antidote to our time.

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Firstly, thank you for pointing out the contrasts of the lacework ~ delicate but strong is a good way to think about it.
I did get so much out of the masterclass with Donna, especially the idea of going beyond the surface. to make connections, and to allow the parts of the work connect too..One of the modules was design elements and composition. I find that tricky, but now I know what I am looking for in what I do. Again, realising it is more than just plonking things down.

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Once again your Art and your words are illuminating. Making something beautiful that comes from your core has got to be so much better than destruction of the beautiful architecture, culture and the very essence of human beings. (not forgetting the beautiful animals and birds that are once again being destroyed). I also love the photos of the ironwork verandahs.

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You are right ~ there is so much wilful destruction in our world. Which makes images such as the violinist playing the bomb shelter in Ukraine so powerful, and gives hope.

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I’m with Frank Gehry. I struggle with the quilts that have too much of a plan. What’s the point in making it if I already know what it will look like in the end?! But then I also get stuck in the mire of “what’s the point of making it at all?” I have to be on constant guard not to fall into that particular pit.

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Your question made me smile, Sue. Even when I know (which isn’t often!) the end result usually doesn’t match the idea in my head.
“What’s the point?” is a dangerous question, because as you say, it can stop you creating. For me the answer is to try to create intentionally, not just churn things out. Also I am trying to remember to ask myself whether it fits into where I am at the moment.

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I try to make my thoughts interesting to others, so I am glad that works. However really I am just trying to get my ideas sorted out, and an audience helps.
(I smile to myself when I think that I dropped out of the SAL posts because I wasn’t doing any sewing, and look like doing any for a while! Now my sewing is all I am doing!)

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I am glad you like reading my thoughts. However, as I said to Kathy above, I am really writing them to clarify my own ideas. Having an audience helps be more precise. Danny’s quote is a good one. It is allied to the idea that we have no control over another’s actions. i will create what I want to create; I can’t create with someone else’s reaction in mind.

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I think these lace pieces are amongst my favourites of your work over the past few years… As for creativity being an indulgence in today’s world: by being creative we ourselves contribute to the constant work of creativity that is the natural world. Let us never give up this affirmation of what makes us human and in tune with our world.

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Oh yes, Kate. And we need that positivity and affirmation even more at the moment. We need to strengthen the threads that tie us to each other, that make us better human beings. (Thank you for you thoughts about the lace works. I really appreciate it.)

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This post of yours resonates with me on a number of levels. Like you, I’ve been down at the combined horrors we’ve created as a species, and I’ve also been struggling with….-deep breath-….my art. That’s the first time I’ve actually dared use the word art in connection with the digital collage/graphics I’ve been working on. I still feel like a bit of a fraud. Same as I did when I first called myself a writer, but I’m starting to believe that negativity is simply habit.
We have a set image of ourselves and experience great resistance when we try to change that core image.
I’m so glad your art is becoming both deeper and more ‘unstructured’. You’re letting yourself push the limits. -hugs-

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I don’t know what to add, I see I placed a like but no reply.

Currently for me, I’ve stopped thinking about the future of my creativity, and that often used buzz word (must sell) and am finding that doing things as gifts is best, at least for now. That means I don’t feel their is a deadline or even the “have-to-stuff” … a freedom.

But then again personal other life has gotten a bit out of hand even though it hasn’t meant going off site much….

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